Game Review: Qix

Qix Title Screen

  • Publisher: Taito
  • Developer: Novotrade
  • Released: January 1991
  • Game Type: Arcade
  • Players: 1 or 2 [Alt]
  • Product Number: NES-QX-USA
  • Rarity: A (Ultra Rare)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 8

    Box Scan
    Qix Screen 1 Qix Screen 2

    This game is a port of an early 1980s arcade game by Taito that was different from all the space-shooting games at the time. Instead of blasting aliens or munching dots, Qix, best described as an coin-op Etch-A-Sketch, relied on strategy and thinking. While it wasn't a blockbuster hit, it still gained a cult following and managed to receive home ports on several platforms, including this one being reviewed here.

    The premise is simple. You are landlocked in a playfield and pitted against the Qix, a swirling helix that moves unpredictably around the screen. You're out to try and contain the Qix by claiming as much of the screen as you can.

    The object of each level is to claim a certain amount of the playing field from the Qix. You take control of a marker that has the ability to draw Stix. To claim the field, you need to use the marker to draw squares and rectangles that connect to the outer wall or other rectangles. When you make a complete shape, a pattern fills it, signaling your claim. Once you reach the required threshold, you get to move on to the next level. However the Qix is always in motion, and if it touches your incomplete Stix when you're drawing a box, you're toast. You can draw Stix in two speeds: fast or slow, which leaves you vunerable longer but is worth twice as many points. Remember that once you start drawing Stix, you can't stop moving until the shape is done, or else the Fuse will light up your trail and zap you. Other enemies plague you, including Sparx that travel along the perimeter of the claimed area to try and shock you, and Spritz, which float along the screen. You also have a timer bar at the top; if you take too long to complete the level, more Sparx will appear. Finally, if you think one Qix is trouble, in some levels there's two of them for twice the danger, but if you manage to make a line that separates them, you get double the points from that level on. This game also includes a practice mode, which gives you unlimited lives to try out your moves.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    The graphics are simple for this type of game. The characters have some smooth animation, especially the Qix. The colored patterns that appear once you claim areas are different each time you play. Some look good, others not so much. At least you get different colors for the Fast and Slow fills. Qix also doesn't have much audiowise. For the most part the main gameplay is pretty mute excet for a few sound effects. When you claim an area you get a high-pitched or low-pitched sound (depending on the fast or slow draw used) that isn't the greatest, and if you die you hear a cool sound as your marker is disintegrated. The sound of the fuse being lit up is also decent. It would have been nice to hear something as you're drawing the Stix, such as the the rumbling sound effect from the coin-op original, so the game isn't totally quiet, but it's not that big a deal. The only music in the game is the title screen and the little tune that plays after you complete each stage, which is nice but gets repetitive.

    The controls are simple and work very well. The control pad is very responsive, though sometimes it can get hung up when turning coriners. The buttons do their job as well: Button B draws at the fast speed, Button A draws at the slow speed.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Like most 80s arcade games, Qix comes through where it counts, in the gameplay department. With the randomness of the Qix and the billions of differnet combinations, it never plays the same way twice. This game constantly challenges you to think about what moves to make, and at times it dares you to take chances. The game may seem difficult at first but it never gets too frustrating, and you may find yourself playing again many times once you start.

    So aside from the audio and visuals, Qix on the NES still proves to be another great title in the system's catalogue, as well as a great port of the arcade classic. The graphics and sounds may not be much, but the simple yet challenging gameplay more than makes up for it. Gamers who played the original will be pleased to find the main gameplay intact, plus those that never tried their hand at the coin-op will find Qix to be a very fun and addicting puzzler. This is definelty a game to check out, even if the title does sound like a breakfast cereal.

    - Review posted on January 9, 2007